#2. Your Life Is Full of Crazy People
Growing marijuana for a living puts a person in a "club" of sorts, and that club is stocked with crazy.
The cost makes trying to run a grow operation alone a near impossibility, which means partnering up with all sorts of sketchy characters to handle things like trimming plants, selling the product and all the other stuff you need help with once you realize you're in way over your head. No matter what the movies may tell you, weed enthusiasts are not comprised entirely of laid-back stoners. For every one of those that you might encounter during the course of a business day, there are probably two or three who are more like the guy who uses an alligator as a guard animal. Probably not the person to bond with over a shared love of Bob Marley and Rastafarian culture.
The ones who reek of Nag Champa are usually safe. But then you've got that to deal with.
When you're dealing with what still amounts to a quasi-black market fringe industry, it's inevitable that some of the people involved will be criminals, and they are going to rip someone off at some point. If you clicked that link, which points to a very brief story about a man who was ripped off by a "friend" in the industry, you may have noticed that it took all of two comments before someone chimed in with a transcript of a scene from the movie Snatch that explains how to properly dispose of a body. If you decide to set up a grow operation, these are your new friends.
And very soon, one of those crazy paranoid types is going to be you. A person immersed in a life of selling drugs, legal or otherwise, is going to live in a constant state of paranoia -- it's just a fact of life. Part of that has to do with constantly walking such a fine line between legal and illegal, knowing that it doesn't take much of a mistake to get tossed in jail and to see your entire investment vanish.
Remember what we said about how easy it is to go astray of the regulations? Well, the police don't need much of an excuse to come in and inspect your operation. Like, for instance, if you have spent the last three hours trimming product. The smell of fresh marijuana being trimmed is almost as pungent as a skunk from the same distance, which is why so many ideas are thrown around to conceal the smell. After handling the plant at all, its scent is on your clothes, your hands and, most importantly, your hair. That pungent smell is enough to warrant a search in some states. And, as we established, even if you've got your license to grow and your prescription blown up to a wall-sized poster, chances are good the police will find a reason to take your entire operation away if they come knocking.
"This smells like either a skunk farm or the devil's lettuce!"
And that's just the cops. What about the threat of home invasion from all those shady types who know your house is full of weed (and, they probably assume, cash)? Growers have been murdered during the process of armed robbery -- and that wasn't an isolated incident.
Then when the police respond to that crime, they start treating you like a criminal, too. It happened to Steve Sarich, a weed activist from Finn Hill, Washington. Five men broke into his home and shot him. When police arrived and spotted his (perfectly legal) grow operation, the crime scene turned into a marijuana raid.
And that's not even the most depressing thing about growing weed for a living. That would be the fact that ...
#1. The Payoff Sucks
After going through all of the bullshit listed here so far, a successful grow operation should come out the other end with five to six pounds of sweet, delicious weed to show for it. Guess what, though: That shit don't buy groceries, and it certainly doesn't pay the bills. So the next step is to take the harvested crops to a dispensary and cash in. And this is precisely where dreams of riches die for most people who enter into this industry.
"I'm sorry sir, but I can't take a jay in exchange for coffee."
As shitty luck would have it, legal cannabis dispensaries don't pay very well. No matter how great the product, the guy behind the counter at that dispensary has seen it and better a million times before. These are licensed professionals doing stacks of paperwork and constantly watching their legal asses as much as anyone entering into the profession should.
At the end of the day, after taxes, prices might not reach much higher than $2,800 a pound. If that sounds like a pretty sweet deal, let this message board full of people who would know far more about the matter reassure you how incorrect you are. When you factor in the exorbitant costs involved with keeping a grow operation going, $2,800 per pound amounts to about $4,200 in profit per month ... and that's before taxes (unless you're one of those legal weed farmers who doesn't bother paying taxes, in which case, enjoy prison) and before splitting the money with all those people brought on to help. And that's if everything goes perfectly, which it never does.
Sometimes the pot decides to smoke itself.
Think about all of the factors earlier -- from the seed to the lights to the water to the temperature to the cops to plain old Murphy's Law. If any one of them goes wrong, it can ruin an entire crop. At best that's costing a few thousand dollars in baby plants, at worst costing an entire mature crop, meaning the loss of all the time and the rent and the power bills that went into growing it. And all of this occurs while you're trying to pay off those start-up costs we mentioned earlier. You're learning on the job, and every mistake costs money.
It's at this point that most people decide all the time and effort wasn't worth it, leaving them with not much more than a few years of empty space on the "previous jobs" section of their resume. That might not all sound bad, except you're not 18 years old and behind the gym smoking pot anymore, you're an adult now, and you've come to the painful realization that you permanently crippled your ability to buy a home and become an actual member of society anytime in the next few years.
"We're really looking for someone with more of a background in Coke dealing, but thanks for your time."
Buzz kills don't get much bigger than that.
For more insider insights, check out Why Tech Support Sucks: A Look Behind the Scenes and The 5 Most Impractical Aspects of Superhero Costumes.